Team Parker Racing’s Rick Parfitt Jnr. and Seb Morris secured both theirs and Bentley’s maiden British GT Championship victory at Oulton Park Sunday afternoon thanks to a commanding performance in the day’s second hour-long race.
Meanwhile, in GT4, Optimum Motorsport’s Mike Robinson and Graham Johnson made it back-to-back wins after also overturning a pit-stop success penalty (see following story).
Alasdair McCaig, Rob Bell and Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse climbed onto the second step and celebrated their first series podium since switching to McLaren’s 650S, while the GT3 rostrum was completed by Barwell Motorsport’s Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen.
Further back Marcus Hoggarth and Abbie Eaton fought through from eighth on the GT4 grid to claim the Maserati MC GranTurismo’s maiden British GT podium ahead of RCIB Insurance Racing’s Aaron Mason and Rob Barrable, who also visited the top-three for the first time.
The race finished five minutes early after Anna Walewska, who had been leading the GT4 class, crashed her Century Motorsport Ginetta at Lodge.
Third place in the day’s earlier race ensured pole-sitter Morris would not only need to hold on to first but also build a five second lead if he and Parfitt Jnr were to have any chance of making amends for losing the opening encounter after being blocked in the pits.
That they did so handsomely had everything to do with an opening stint in which the Welshman bolted clear at the start and never looked back. Bell, whose McLaren had blocked the Bentley in race one, gave chase but couldn’t prevent Morris from building a 13.5 second lead before the mandatory driver changes.
Parfitt Jnr and McCaig jumped aboard their respective charges one lap apart before emerging from the pit-stop cycle nine seconds apart, a gap that would remain fairly static until the chequered flag. Indeed, just 10.5 seconds covered the pair at the finish.
“I pushed really hard, to the absolute limit in fact all the way through the stint.” said Morris after the race. “The car was amazingly balanced.
“We’ve had an amazing weekend with this and third place in race one.” He then went on to remind us how how close the racing community is paying tribute to fellow Bentley racing driver Andrew Palmer “On behalf of Team Parker Racing, I want him to know we’re all thinking of him after his accident in America on Saturday.”
Barwell Motorsport’s Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen started and finished third, but not before some shuffling had taken place. The latter actually dropped to fifth at the start after Beechdean AMR’s Ross Gunn and Barwell team-mate Adam Carroll jumped ahead, but both eventually fell back to give the #33 Lamborghini its second podium in three rounds.
Championship leader Jonny Adam had been looking to secure a record-equalling 11th British GT3 victory this weekend but eventually had to settle for fourth in the day’s second race after a solid fifth in the opener. The Scot slipped behind Carroll at the start to run sixth in the early stages before TF Sport co-driver Derek Johnston profited from a second stint drive-through penalty for Andrew Howard, who’d taken over the Beechdean AMR V12 Vantage from Ross Gunn, as well as Barwell’s pit-stop success penalty, to secure more solid points.
Indeed, Liam Griffin and Carroll’s race one victory ensured they, like Morris and Parfitt Jnr, would have to serve additional time during their mandatory driver change. Their 10 second handicap was only sufficient to drop them one place after Carroll’s fast start helped him claim two positions on the opening lap.
Howard and Gunn had the pace to finish on the podium before Beechdean AMR’s pit-lane infringement and subsequent penalty dropped them to sixth, one place ahead of Mark Farmer and Jon Barnes’ TF Sport Aston.
Richard Neary and Martin Short again belied their all-Am status to finish eighth, two places lower than the Team Abba by Rollcentre Racing BMW Z4 GT3 had managed in the opening race, while AmDTuning.com’s Lee Mowle and Joe Osborne were unable to replicate their podium from earlier in the day and eventually came home ninth after a late unscheduled stop. Phil Dryburgh and Ross Wylie’s Motorbase Performance Aston Martin completed the points paying places.
Morris’ efforts to build a big enough advantage during his stint resulted in him also winning the Sunoco Fastest Race Lap of the Weekend Award. His best of 1m34.804s was marginally quicker than Jonny Adam’s race one benchmark and seven tenths up on the previous Oulton Park GT3 record.
Elsewhere, Jon Minshaw won the Blancpain Gentleman Driver of the Weekend Award for securing GT3 Am pole, leading throughout his race one stint and finishing third in the second.